Nightmare on Elm St. 2: Freddy’s Revenge

Remember how awkward you were in high school?  How your body was changing?  Your personality was changing?  You didn’t know exactly who you were while at the same time you were turning into an adult?  Dredged up those fun-filled memories?  Good.  Now, remember how there would be “After-School Specials” that would try to help you understand what was going on, that you were normal, and that adults understood what you were going through and just wanted to help?

Now imagine how much more fun those specials would have been with Freddy Krueger!

Jack Sholder’s 1985 follow up to the original is the outlier of the series.  This installment bears almost no resemblance to the other seven films. While most see this as a drawback, I give the filmmaker’s credit for being brave enough to try something new and delivering a decent film at the same time.

Five years after the Nancy Thompson’s ordeal, Jesse (Mark Patton) and family have moved into the infamous 1428 Elm Street home.  Jesse is having trouble settling into the house and even more trouble sleeping.  But that’s just because it’s unusually hot in his room, right?  WRONG!  Fred Krueger (Robert Englund) now “Freddy,” wants to continue his unholy campaign of vengeance against the Elm Street kids.  Only now he wants to kill them in the real world, through the liberal use and complete transmogrification of Jesse’s body.  Which is to say Jesse will become a Were-Freddy.

I am completely serious.

Sholder does not give Freddy a lot of release in this film, going for a more suspenseful, creepy vibe.  It’s an interesting approach as the audience is not entirely sure that Freddy is committing these murders, or if Jesse is simply insane.  The downside is there isn't as much violence as slasher fans have come to appreciate, though it still features a higher body count than part 5.  This is due, in no small part, to the veritable smorgasbord of teenage flesh that Freddy eviscerates at the poolside barbecue.

What makes this film so memorable is not the violence, or even Englund’s standard excellent performance, but the way in which the plot plays out like an “After School Special” about a young man coming to grips with his sexuality, or in the case of this film, doesn't.  It starts off quietly, with a few male locker room scenes and one harmless pants-ing incident.  Then there’s the scene of Jesse unpacking to “All Night Long” and dancing until Lisa (Kim Myers) shows up and all the fun is over.  And then, there’s Coach Schneider’s (Marshall Bell) S & M proclivities, bar meeting, and then shower room bondage/death scene.  Look at the way Jesse and Grady (Robert Rusler) behave: they clearly aren't interested in attracting women.

Consider: the two times Freddy manifests and kills people one on one are when Jesse is alone with men.  Freddy’s tongue pops out when Jesse's is making out with Kim, but only to scare Jesse away into the safety of Grady and his seemingly leather comforter.  It’s only when Kim smothers Jesse with her love that he is able to quash his own natural proclivities and pretend that he’s straight, which his sub-conscious then rejects with the final scene.

Sholder insists that the homosexual subtext was unintentional, while Englund claims the contrary.  Either way, it makes this installment all the more interesting, or at the very least, perfect for a drinking game.